How to Freeze Fresh Basil
We had to harvest the last of our basil a few weeks ago here in Michigan (such a bummer that the cold and SNOW is upon us again!), but my friend and awesome blog assistant, Jill, who lives in Texas, just got the last of her basil this week. She shared how to freeze fresh basil, along with her favorite way to preserve it for pesto all winter long. Here's Jill…
If you grow your own basil or get it from a friend, homemade pesto is much cheaper than store-bought, tastes better, and is far better quality since you control the ingredients (especially the oil AND yours won't have any nasty preservatives).
Those living in some southern climates may be harvesting the last of their basil right about now before the first frost kills it off. Here's how to preserve your bounty and conveniently enjoy “fresh” pesto throughout the winter months to use in a variety of ways:
- As a pasta or pizza sauce
- In soups and stews
- To smother cut up chicken with before baking or slow cooking
- To flavor a dip or a dressing
- Please share your favorite ways to use pesto in the comments!
- Note from Kelly: Here are my favorite pesto recipes:
Ingredients (Enough to fill one ice cube tray, plus a little more):
- About 8 cups basil leaves, gently packed (I just fill my food processor bowl)
- 3-4 large cloves garlic
- 1 cup crispy pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or pine nuts (soaked overnight in salt water and dehydrated in a warm oven to enhance digestibility)
- 1-2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
- About 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil (you can substitute part softened or melted butter) – click here for my favorite high quality organic EVOO – use the code KOP at checkout for a discount.
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Place everything in the food processor, starting with the basil (the other ingredients help weigh it down so your food processor doesn't overflow), and process on high until you have a smooth paste. You can drizzle more olive oil in as needed, if it is struggling to incorporate well, and you may need to stop the food processor to scrape down the sides once or twice. (Unless you have one like my food processor that has a scraper thing on the edges!)
With a spatula, scoop pesto into an ice cube tray, smoothing the surface as you go. Freeze until they're hard. Run hot water over the back of the tray to loosen the cubes, then bend tray back or bang on a clean cutting board to dislodge your frozen pesto cubes. Freeze in a zip lock bag to use as needed through the winter. That's it!
Be sure to let us know what your favorite pesto recipes are?!
Maegan Burt Daugherty says
I was wondering what to do with my basil! Thanks!
Julie Snelling says
I miss my big organic garden and the basil!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Basil grows great in flowerbeds and pots too, Julie Snelling! 🙂
Tim Robinson says
Yum, yum, yum!
You were having snow by November 14 of 2014! Boy did we experience a LATE winter for our first one here. I am going to be making this in the next few days. I will be substituting romano sheep cheese for the parmesan so my youngest can have it along with us. Thank you for the idea of freezing it in ice cubes! Great idea!